Humankind has long dreamed of setting foot on the Red Planet. In order to implement the ambitious plans by 2040 and send a manned mission to Mars, new technologies are needed to meet the technical, financial and health challenges. An essential point is the use of resources on Mars.
Martian biolith: A bioinspired regolith composite for closed-loop extraterrestrial manufacturing
Ng Shiwei, Stylianos Dritsas, Javier G. Fernandez, Plos One, September 16, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238606
The Singapore-based authors developed a technology for the production of Mars Biolith, a composite material made of chitosan and Martian rock. For this purpose, chitosan from shrimps (75-85% degree of deacetylation) was dissolved in 1% v/v acetic acid and combined with a mineral (regolith) to mimic the properties of the Martian soil. After the evaporation of the water, the chitosan crystallizes, reduces the volume and pulls the regolith particles together.
The composite material was used to build a wrench and a model of accommodation on Mars. The researchers wanted to show that it is possible to produce useful objects at minimal cost and without special equipment.